How to Stay Safe in Winter Weather

More rain and snow predicted for Georgia
More rain and snow predicted for Georgia

February is ending with a cold front, and although we’ve already had snow and ice there’s a strong chance more is on the way.
We’ve all experienced some type of winter weather before, but because we don’t get it as often as Chicago or Boston, we tend to forget how to handle it. Here are some tips on how to stay safe during the bad weather.

Driving Tips

  • Drive slowly! When the roads are covered in snow, or even just wet, everything – stopping, turning and accelerating – takes longer than it does when the pavement is dry.
  • Try not to stop. If you can take your foot off the gas and keep rolling until a traffic light changes for instance, that’s better than stopping and trying to start moving again.
  • Don’t follow too closely. In normal dry conditions your following distance should be 3 to 4 seconds, in snowy or ice conditions it should be 8 to 10 seconds. This helps give you more time to stop if you need to when the roads are slippery.
  • Stay home if you can. If you don’t have to venture out, just stay home and stay safe. Enjoying the weather from your window is much safer and more enjoyable.
  • See http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/ for more tips.

Health and Safety
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has tons of tips on their site about how to keep your body safe in case of inclement weather (http://ready.ga.gov/Stay-Informed/Winter-Advisories-and-Ice-Storms).

  • Frostbite can happen in minutes. Warning signs include numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, and skin that feels waxy or firm. Seek medical help immediately if frostbite is suspected. If that’s not possible, get the victim to a warm location and immerse the affected skim in warm water. Avoid using heating pads, fireplaces or radiators for warmth as the skin can burn. Also, never rub the skin as this could cause additional damage.
  • Signs of hypothermia include shivering, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness, and fumbling hands. If the victim’s temperature is below 95 degrees, get medical attention right away. If that is not possible, again get the victim to a warm location, remove their wet clothes, and warm the center of their body with an electric blanket and if they are conscious give them warm (non-alcoholic) drinks such as tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

Household Safety

The GEMA also reminds residents what to do in case they lose power during a winter storm:

  • Always use flashlights instead of candles to prevent fires. But make sure you have plenty of batteries on backup!
  • If you lose your heat during a power outage, turn to a fireplace or space heater to keep warm. Never heat the inside of your home with your oven, camp stove or grill. These are all fire hazards and could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you follow all these tips, and others found at http://ready.ga.gov/Stay-Informed/Winter-Advisories-and-Ice-Storms you’ll be ready to tackle anything that mother nature sends our way!

Stay safe and warm!

Is Your Agency Website On Target

results-oriented-website-design-development-672x318It’s not hard to find a good-looking site.

Just look around. The plethora of talent out there in terms of web design is absolutely astounding. The wealth of knowledge we have, thanks to today’s lightning fast-web, makes for great content that we’re dying to digest. Both big and small, there are many sites we see that look to be on point on the surface, and it’s hard not to want such a site.

Yet looks can be deceiving when it comes to the modern website. Today’s independent insurance agency must both look and play the part when it comes to websites and audiences.

Even with the best designers and content writers at your disposal, it’s easy to drive your site and its potential success into the ground without a decent sense of direction. As users are spending less and less time actually visiting sites, it’s clear that many businesses are missing something when it comes to retaining their traffic once it has arrived. So, what is it that their sites are lacking?

Their websites are off-target and they don’t have a plan to fix it.

What do we mean by that? What makes a successful website that will attract traffic, retain visitors and welcome them to buy what we’re selling? Ultimately, users are looking for:

  • A site that understands its audience and exactly what they want
  • A site that looks and feels in touch with that audience
  • A site that establishes trust and effectively invites users into their funnel

Does your agency’s site fit the bill? Is your website on target?

 

Catering to an Audience With so many moving pieces, when it comes to insurance agency websites it’s easy to overlook the concept of audience.

Insurance-buying audiences come in many shapes and sizes. While some of you may be going after a relatively niche market, others might be shooting for a much larger demographic. Regardless of who you’re looking to draw to your site, it’s crucial that you understand the intricacies of your audience, what they’re looking for and what they expect from an insurance agency website .

For example: let’s say you have a business that targets stay-at-home parents. The scope of a site catering to stay-at-home moms may be much different in terms of imagery, design, and content versus a site directed toward stay-at-home dads. While some stay-at-home parent content would work interchangeably between audiences, it’s important to further focus on specific sects within that audience (moms/dads, parents with sons/daughters, parents with one child/multiple children, single parents, etc.). There’s a lot to consider when it comes to targeting your content; however, it’s most important to note how crafting such content makes your business look good for Google. The more focused your content is, the more likely your visitors will stick around.

To give another example of sectioning off an audience, let’s say your business targets buyers looking for a product (we’ll go with dessert) in a specific area (let’s say New York). Yet, a business that sells ice cream in New York would market itself much differently in terms of imagery and content than that of a bakery in the same city. While both businesses may be selling desserts, their sites and marketing strategies are not interchangeable.

Likewise, the keyword strategies of such businesses would be different. While yes, you want everyone who’s interested in dessert in New York to come to your site, it’s much more prudent to focus on long-tail keywords to get people into your funnel. Consider that “New York French bakery” and “New York frozen yogurt” are much less competitive in terms of keywords versus “bakery” or “ice cream” and will ultimately provide more targeted traffic.

In addition to written content, businesses should put emphasis on their visuals as well. Something as simple as your color scheme has an impact on what sort of tone you set for your visitors. Always include imagery that fits with the scope of your business and, if possible, include your own images of your product or business to give your site a personal feel.

Who Do You Trust? To bring everything together, an effective website establishes trust. This trust is formed through knowledgeable, unique content, a smart site design and architecture, and a bit of personal touch. What exactly do we mean?

  • Users are interested in unique, original content that tells them something new about your industry and product
  • Users want a site that looks clean and professional (not sketchy or incomplete) and they should be able to navigate that site with ease
  • Users want to identify with the imagery and tone of the sites they visit  in order to feel like they’re in the right place
  • Users don’t want to face businesses that seem cold or fake; they want to see your business’ personality shine throughout your site

Is your website hitting all of the buttons above?

The Bottom Line Engaging your audience in terms of content and design are absolutely crucial when it comes to establishing trust and ensuring you’re giving them what they want. Based on what you know now, ask yourself: is your site on target for its traffic?

 

AgentsGoDigital’s team of internet marketing and social media professionals are ready to launch your agency into the fast-paced world of digital marketing. From social media posts, blogging, to website creation, we’ll do as much or as little as you need to get your marketing campaign current and relevant for today’s marketplace!

We’ll manage your digital marketing services while you concentrate on growing your agency business.

For more information, please contact:

Stacie King, Director of Industry Relations, Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia, Office: 770-458-0093, Ext 104

 

Join IIAG – Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia – Georgia’s Trusted Choice agents today and get website from AgentsGoDigital for FREE*

Now you can have a premium website for your independent insurance agency for FREE* — That’s right, at no cost to you, when you join IIAG – Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia.

We’ve helped veteran agencies and new businesses alike through our collection of resources that we’ve developed and we are without question the go-to organization in Georgia for these kinds of resources.

Many of our members and prospects have come to us for help getting their business jump-started or back on track. By joining IIAG, they have been able to make use of our resources that – quite frankly, without – they may not have been able to stay in business.

With their membership in the association and our partnerships with many A+ rated companies, and guidance through best practices and a wealth of insurance experience history, they’ve been able to grow and thrive in just about every economy.

Call or Email IIAG’s Member Services Coordinator today for more information, or complete theonline membership application to get started immediately!

Does Your Business Look Like SPAM

BY: BRENT BARNHART ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2013 –http://www.chamberofcommerce.com

1N1Pjy5The Internet has transformed the landscape of doing business. Good news, right?

As technology has evolved so rapidly over the past decade or so to bring us information and commerce faster than we ever could have thought possible, it’s easy to forget some of the less savory aspects of the Internet.

Let’s consider spam, for example.

Nobody likes junk mail. Similarly, nobody likes spam. Regardless, it’s something that we as internet users have had to deal with since we first logged on. Whether in the form of junk email or fake websites, users have become more and more accustomed to the barrage of spam that comes with the territory of doing business online.

 

Although many people may consider spam to be a “thing of the past,” think again:

  • Over 70% of all emails circulating today are spam messages
  • Just under 10% of all Facebook accounts are either fake, duplicate or spam
  • Only 32.4% of Twitter followers of the top 10 most active Twitter accounts are “real” users

There are plenty of scams and spam out there; so what does this have to do with your small business?

The rampant epidemic of spam, spread rapidly through the social network and blogosphere, has left many users very, very cautious in terms of who they can really trust online. Whether such users are attempting to do business or are simply using the web to communicate; there’s a certain aura of fear that keeps many users cautious. For this reason, it’s crucial that your business upholds a certain standard and keeps itself from being mistaken as spam. Although you may feel that your business is pushing the right buttons when it comes to looking legitimate, consider the following:

Don’t Act Like a Robot

Show your visitors and customers that you indeed are a real person. This can be done by updating your website and social media channels on a regular, consistent basis. This is important for the sake of your readership and SEO purposes, but it also achieves the simple task of letting people know that your business is alive and well. An aging, inactive website could be a potential red flag to a new user.

Furthermore, creating your own original content is a double-whammy when it comes to making your website look more valuable and assuring visitors that you’re not just a spammer. In an era where so many sites are stealing and scraping their content from across the depths of the web, having your own quality content is a treasure. Let your business’ personality shine through your content and provide your readers with a consistent voice. Plain and simple, do what you need to do in order to sound human and ensure your visitors that you are indeed a real person.

For example, many small businesses use tools such as Hootsuite in order to monitor and update their social media channels. Many may go overboard, however, and exclusively update through such a program or spam out tweets and status updates on an hourly basis. Such spammy behavior is a turn-off to new users and will make your company look questionable. Feel free to take advantage of automated tools when it comes to updating, blogging, social media and so on, simply make sure you’re using those tools to benefit your business rather than sabotage it.

Tell Your Story (and Not Somebody Else’s) As a small business owner, you are a storyteller. Likewise, your story is completely unique to your business. Don’t be afraid to tell your story. After all, it’s the one aspect of your business that simply cannot be imitated.

You may elaborate on the narrative, goals and achievements of your company and products through utilizing quotes from customers, testimonials, ratings, reviews and your “About Me” page. A combination of these will build credibility for your business and make you look more legitimate. Furthermore, sites that utilize such trust-building content tend to perform better than sites that go without it.

Be sure to use actual quotes, reviews and testimonials. However, don’t put in the hours just to embellish such information. Use the names ofreal people and get their consent before doing so. This may be relatively difficult if you’re a business just getting off the ground; however, social media can be a handy tool in acquiring such quotes and evangelists for your business. Don’t go behind anyone’s back or go around posting a bunch of fake quotes or names; your visitors will be able to see right through it. Users have become much more aware of scams and will detect a problem when they see dozens of quotes from “Joe Smith” and “Tom Brown” heralding your product as some kind of miracle.

Your “About Me” page is incredibly important, too. Many “spammy” sites will lack such pages or will remain extremely brief when it comes to providing information on a company or its history. By providing some backstory on your company and its goals, you allow your personality to come through and provide your visitors with some peace of mind as they know that they’re visiting a legitimate site.

In short, tell your story and be truthful when doing so.

Look More Than Generic

In a world full of spam, SEO and lots of generic site templates, it’s hard to stand out from the pack in the midst of many businesses that look, feel and sound exactly the same. Your business needs to do what it can to look like an innovator rather than an imitator.

If you’re afraid that your business looks like every other business on the block, you may need to consider a facelift for your business’ site. If you follow the previous two steps, your visitors should feel a sense of personality from your business. Take this a step further by giving your users something to truly look at when they come to your business’ website.

When it comes to creating logos, finding pictures and designs for your website, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. You can go beyond the generic WordPress templates or typical stock photos we’ve seen a billion times before. While you don’t necessarily need to hire a graphic designer or tech guru in order to set your business apart, you may consider some outside help in making your business look more legitimate.

You don’t have to gotoo far outside of the box, but consider the number of businesses in your space and ask yourself; what are you doing to set yourself apart?

Talk Back

Give your users the opportunity to contact you and allow yourself a chance to respond to their inquires; this is a surefire away to let your users know that you are anything but a spammer.

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get a hold of someone and having inadequate or incorrect contact information. If there’s a barrier between you and your customer when it comes to making contact, that’s a red flag. Remember, users are cautious these days. Don’t put up any barriers where you don’t have to.

Furthermore, always put yourself out in the open when it comes to your customers. Allow your visitors the opportunity to contact your through social media or your site’s “About Me” page, where you may list an email or phone number. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Don’t provide an email address that you never check or a phone number that’s disconnected. Additionally, take the time to respond to any worthwhile inquiries that you receive. Failure to do so will indeed make you look like a spammer.

Nobody’s Perfect (and That’s Okay)

Oftentimes, spam products and the scams surrounding them are based off of services that are too good to be true. For this very reason, don’t try to sell your product as such. Instead, focus on its true benefits, what you have to offer as a company and on why the customer should pick you versus the competition. Nobody’s perfect; there’s something inherently fishy about something that seems just a little too flawless. It’s more important to be trustworthy than “perfect.” Keep this in mind when crafting your business’ site and plan your activity on the web. Despite popular belief, business owners are only human and your customers will recognize you as such.

The Bottom Line

Users are avoiding spam like the plague these days and will turn around at the first sign of trouble; don’t let those red flags go when they see your business. By following the aforementioned tips, your small business can focus on getting down to business on the web rather than looking like spam.

Call or Email IIAG’s Member Services Coordinator today for more information, or complete theonline membership application to get started immediately!

About the Author

Brent Barnhart is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. He covers a wide variety of topics through the written word, including content marketing, Internet marketing and small business trends. ChamberofCommerce.com is dedicated to helping small businesses grow their presence on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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Testimonials

Fitzpatrick Website SS

Dear AGD –

We just wanted you to know how pleased we are with the performance of our website.  When we were searching for a company to create a website that was more professional looking and easier to navigate, we looked at local web designers, but we also looked at IIAG.  We knew Stacie King from seminars she conducted at the Big I conference about social media so we knew that she was internet “savvy”.

We chose IIAG because you know insurance.  We knew the website would reflect the core values of Trusted Choice, look professional and help potential customers find us easily.   What we got was much more.  You didn’t just create a website and leave it with us.  If there is ever an issue with performance, you are a phone call away and the problem is fixed quickly.   When we want to make changes, you always have suggestions that we never even considered or knew were available.  Our website continues to evolve and we appreciate your hard work.

Thom Fitzpatrick,

Fitzpatrick Insurance

www.fitzpatrickins.com
Hamby Website SS

To the team at Agents Go Digital:

I want to thank the “Big I” Agents Go Digital team, including Stacie King, for all their expertise and efforts associated with the launching of our new website.   With their professional guidance, industry insight, and flexible service options available, our website now expands our informational purpose focus to include additional specialty program highlights, agent blogs and social media links, and  allows for future expansion.

The overall experience of working with such a knowledgeable team was exceptional, the launch of our new website was seamless, and thanks to our new AGD website, we have captured an increase in views and contacts.  We look forward to a continued relationship and utilization of additional products and services provided through the “Big I.”

Robert R. Hamby, President

Hamby & Aloisio, Inc.

www.hains.com

CWSmith

AGD Staff,

I just wanted you to know how happy we are with our website. Several years ago the subject of a website or the lack of one came up.

I called Christy Minardi at the IIAG and she walked me through the process of setting it up. She was great to work with.   We chose IIAG because you are in the business of insurance, you know what we wanted and needed. Along the way we were able to make any changes that we so desired. It was that easy. We have enjoyed working with the IIAG during the process of building and maintaining our site. We feel that our website is professional and easy to maneuver through.    Thanks for all of your help and support.

David W. McKoy,  Owner/Agent

C.W. SmithInsurance Agency

http://www.cwsmithinsurance.com